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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Thursday, Oct. 29

Alberta continues to break records for active cases of COVID-19 as the province reported 4,921 active cases Thursday, up 128 from the day before.

Excrement is being tested for COVID-19 as researchers refine sewage surveillance

Two women wear masks in Calgary in a file photo from April. Alberta reported four more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, and again broke the record for active cases of the illness. (The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • Alberta reported 477 new cases on Thursday, bringing it to a total of 4,921 active cases, another new high after hitting record numbers nearly every day for the past week.
  • That comes after the province saw 1,440 new cases over the weekend — more than the number of cases reported in the entire month of June, and nearly as many as were reported in the month of May. 
  • Alberta's data system will be undergoing some maintenance over the weekend, meaning no new numbers will be reported on Monday. Data updates are set to resume on Tuesday.
  • The Calgary Catholic School District says it's seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases this week, and it has led some schools to take more drastic steps to prevent the spread of the virus
  • As of Monday, there were outbreaks at 11 per cent of the province's schools, or 101 schools, 39 of which had more than five cases. There were 680 cases in schools.
  • Five more people have died, bringing total deaths in the province to 318. 
  • There are 130 people in hospital, 18 of whom are in intensive care. 
  • The province has brought in new mandatory limits of 15 people at most social gatherings in Edmonton and Calgary.
  • The province is also recommending voluntary measures in both cities: wearing non-medical masks in all indoor work settings, except where people are alone in an office or cubicle, or a barrier is in place, and limiting themselves to no more than three cohorts. 
  • It also recommends that people in Edmonton and Calgary limit themselves to no more than three social cohorts.
  • A COVID-19 outbreak has spread at the Calgary Correctional Centre, with 100 inmates and 18 staff members having now tested positive.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

Alberta set another record on Thursday with 4,921 active cases of COVID-19, an increase of 128 from the day before.

The death toll now sits at 318, up five from Wednesday.

Five more deaths were reported on Thursday. They involved:

  • a man in his 40s from the South zone
  • a woman in her 80s linked to the outbreak in Agecare Skypointe in the Calgary zone
  • a man in his 90s from the Calgary zone who was not a resident in continuing care.
  • a man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Mount Royal Revera in the Calgary zone.
  • a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton General Care Centre. The death was the fifth linked to the outbreak and was announced Wednesday by Covenant Health.

Alberta has reported a total of 27,042 cases since the pandemic began.

Before this past week, which set new records on multiple days in a row, the highest active case total was 3,022, which was reported on April 30 at the peak of the first wave.

The active case rate per 100,000 people is 121 in Calgary and 183 in Edmonton. 

A new temporary measure, which caps attendance at 15 for events where people will be "mixing and mingling" like parties and baby showers, applies in the Calgary and Edmonton areas.

The province is also recommending two voluntary measures in both cities: wearing non-medical masks in all indoor work settings, except where people are alone in an office or cubicle, or a barrier is in place, and limiting themselves to no more than three cohorts. 

An outbreak at the Calgary Correctional Centre has gotten bigger, according to new numbers provided by Alberta Health Services. As of Thursday, 100 inmates and 18 staff members have tested positive.

A pedestrian wearing a mask walks in downtown Edmonton. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Raw sewage being flushed into Alberta's municipal wastewater plants could help public health officials better track — and predict — the spread of COVID-19.

A team of Alberta scientists has joined a growing international effort to sample wastewater for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease.

Labs at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary are among more than a dozen across Canada either actively testing or working to help establish a standard methodology for sampling. 

Here's the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Thursday.

  • Edmonton zone: 2,277, an increase of 22 from the day before.
  • Calgary zone: 1,879, an increase of 91 from the day before.
  • North zone: 325, an increase of one from the day before.
  • South zone: 256, the same as the day before.
  • Central zone: 162, an increase of two from the day before.
  • Unknown: 22, a decrease of two from the day before.  
(CBC)

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 228,542 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 27,259 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 191,209 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 10,074.

Ontario reported 834 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. As of Wednesday, there were 312 in hospital, with 71 in ICU, the province said.  In York Region, which along with Toronto, Peel and Ottawa are under tighter restrictions, health officials said there were 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding events held in Vaughan.

In Quebec, a group of gym owners threatening to defy lockdown orders and open their doors backed off that plan after the province said clients could also be fined. 

"If we have to be severe with people who go to the gym when it is not allowed, we will be ready to do so," Quebec deputy premier Geneviève Guilbault said.

British Columbia reported 287 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths on Wednesday. Provincial health officials, who recently tightened up restrictions on in-home gatherings, said there were 87 people in hospital, with 25 in intensive care.

Alcohol consumption is being restricted at Saskatoon nightclubs after multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at some locations in the city. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is putting a cork in the consumption of alcohol between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. as of Friday. Saskatchewan, which has 20 COVID patients in hospital, including six in ICU, reported 67 new cases on Wednesday.

Manitoba's chief public health officer says the province is not seeing the results it expected from restrictions in the Winnipeg region, so tighter rules could be on the way. Dr. Brent Roussin said Wednesday some people are still gathering for social occasions and having a large number of contacts. The province reported 170 new cases and three new deaths.

Canada hit another milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, when the death toll reached 10,000 people.

That number may be inaccurate, though, and the true number could be higher. Statistics Canada has said the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic might have been under-reported. That's because some patients might have died before getting tested for the coronavirus.

The president of U.S. operations for global shipping giant UPS was granted a special ministerial exemption from Canada's mandatory 14-day COVID-19 quarantine, a CBC News investigation has learned. He used the exemption to lobby Ontario employees to accept the company's new contract offer.

The Bank of Canada says it has no plans to change its benchmark interest rate until inflation gets back to two per cent and stays there, something it says isn't likely to happen until 2023.

The central bank said Wednesday it has decided to keep its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent. The news was expected by economists, as although the economy is showing signs of recovering from the impact of COVID-19, things are still a long way from normal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Canadians suffering from mental illness, opioid addiction and other substance abuse problems, says a new study released today by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) which confirms anecdotal reports warning that the pandemic's health consequences extend well beyond the novel coronavirus itself.

Self-assessment and supports:

With winter cold and influenza season approaching, Alberta Health Services will prioritize Albertans for testing who have symptoms, and those groups which are at higher risk of getting or spreading the virus.

General asymptomatic testing is no longer available to anyone, but voluntary asymptomatic testing is available to:

  • school teachers and staff.
  • health-care workers.
  • staff and residents at long-term care and congregate living facilities.
  • any Albertans experiencing homelessness.
  • travellers requiring a test before departure.

Additional groups can also access asymptomatic testing if required.

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

A snapshot of the active COVID-19 cases by health district in Calgary as of Nov. 9. (CBC)

You can find Alberta Health Services' latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said nine officers of the Calgary Police Service had tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. In fact, the force said nine employees of the force, both civilian and sworn, have tested positive have tested positive since April and 18 officers and civilians are currently isolating while they wait for test results.
    Oct 28, 2020 12:56 PM MT

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